The Slovak presidency finalized the EU budget for the coming year with focus on security and competitiveness. More money will be allocated to the reception and integration of refugees and also to address the root causes of migration. The EU Commission came up with its first proposal on the 2017 budget in June this year. The preliminary numbers speak about €157 billion in commitment appropriation and about €134 billion in payment appropriations.
2017 funding for cohesion has been decreased by 11 percent compared to last year and “security and citizenship” received a boost by more than 25 percent. “It took some 18 intensive hours of negotiations – a demanding marathon, if you wish, but a successful one,” Ivan Lesay, the presidency’s chief negotiator for the annual budget, commented. He added that the final budget strongly reflects the EU’s main policy priorities.
The Commission has stressed in its official press release that almost half of the funds – €74.9 billion in commitments – will boost growth, employment and competitiveness. For instance, €21.3 billion will be spent on programs such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, COSME and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and €2.7 billion on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main tool behind the Investment Plan for Europe. European farmers will get €42.6 billion.
As to the reinforcement of the protection of the EU’s external borders and migration management, almost €6 billion will be assigned to support these policies. Half of this amount will be allocated to actions outside the EU to address the root causes of migration and €200 million to the new instrument to provide humanitarian assistance within the EU.
Outgoing Commissioner for the Budget, Kristalina Georgieva, said the 2017 EU budget is set up in the way to work in the best interest of the Europeans because it “will thus help buffer against shocks, providing a boost to our economy and helping to deal with issues like the refugee crisis.” Ms Georgieva also added that “We continue to focus our budget on results, ensuring that every euro from the EU budget will make a difference.”